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Florida confirms two deaths, first outside West Coast

Here's the latest on the coronavirus outbreak.
Image: Countries around the world work to contain and delay the spread of the novel coronavirus that has already claimed more than 3,000 lives worldwide, including nine in the U.S.
Countries around the world work are working to contain and delay the spread of the novel coronavirus.Chelsea Stahl / NBC News

The confirmation of two deaths from coronavirus in Florida became the first fatalities outside of California and Washington state, and new cases were confirmed in new areas of the U.S. Friday.

The death toll in the U.S. from the coronavirus outbreak rose to 17 on Friday, with more than 330 cases confirmed across the country. Pennsylvania has announced its first cases. Johns Hopkins University announced that more than 100,000 people have been infected worldwide.

Health experts are urging people to continue practicing preventative measures, such as routine hand washing, in order to avoid the virus.

President Donald Trump on Friday morning signed a $8.3 billion emergency spending package to combat the virus.

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1002d ago / 2:56 AM UTC

Facebook banning ads for medical masks

Facebook's head of ads and business products said Friday that the social media giant is banning ads and commerce listings for medical masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend masks or respirators for the general public.

1002d ago / 2:54 AM UTC
1002d ago / 2:53 AM UTC

Hawaii's first case was Grand Princess cruise passenger

Hawaii hare reported its first confirmed case of coronavirus.

The patient was on the Grand Princess cruise ship, now docked off the coast of San Francisco, Gov. David Ige said at news conference. The traveler disembarked last month in Mexico and flew home to Honolulu, officials said.

The ship made four stops in Hawaii in February and carried at least four passengers from Hawaii. State officials want anyone who was on the ship to "self-quarantine."

Last month officials said a couple from Japan was diagnosed with the virus after visiting Hawaii. But state officials have not officially counted the cases as originating in the Aloha State, and the exact source of the pair's exposure remained a mystery.

1002d ago / 2:24 AM UTC

Postmates rolls out 'no contact delivery' option

The food delivery company Postmates on Friday announced a “non-contact delivery" option amid fears of the coronavirus illness COVID-19.

"Customers can now choose if they'd like to receive their order at the door or curbside or say they'd prefer for it to just be left at the door. The fleet member will be alerted to their preference at the time of delivery," a Postmates spokesperson said in an email. The company also announced it on its blog.

Instacart on Thursday said it would offer a "Leave at My Door Delivery" option and that it had seen a surge in recent days in demand for powdered milk, canned goods, hand sanitizer and vitamins. 

DoorDash also has a feature enabling requests for food to be left at the door along with a photo of where the food should be left through the app, the company said.

1002d ago / 1:01 AM UTC
1002d ago / 12:47 AM UTC

'They're keeping us in the dark': Coronavirus response enrages families

Kevin Connolly is one of several people with loved ones at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, Washington, where several residents of the long-term care facility and those affiliated with it have fallen ill.

It's quickly become a center for the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by virus.

Seven residents have died, and tests for others are pending. Some seemingly healthy residents, such as Connolly's father-in-law, Jerry Wall, 81, are still waiting to be tested for the virus that has infected more than 101,000 worldwide and killed more than 3,400. Older adults, especially those with underlying health conditions, are most at risk for complications.

"I don't know why it's taking so long for those test kits to get there," Connolly told NBC News. He said health officials have not communicated effectively about what's happening at the Life Care Center.

Read the full story here.

1002d ago / 12:11 AM UTC
1002d ago / 12:09 AM UTC
1002d ago / 12:00 AM UTC

Pence reports 21 people tested positive on cruise ship

Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that 21 people aboard a cruise ship that's being held off the coast of California have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The California Air National Guard had delivered 46 tests to the Grand Princess, which has been offshore since Wednesday. Of the 46 passengers tested, Pence said 21 people, 19 employees and two passengers, had tested positive. Twenty-four tested negative, and one was inconclusive, Pence said.

There are over 3,500 people on board the ship, which is anchored near San Francisco.

Read the full story here.

1002d ago / 10:11 PM UTC

U.S. coronavirus testing capacity is 'not currently adequate,' expert tells Congress

The United States "desperately" needs more tests to screen for the new coronavirus, a public health expert told Congress on Friday.

"Testing capacity is not currently adequate, and we need more," said Dr. Lisa Maragakis, senior director of infection prevention for the Johns Hopkins Health System and an epidemiologist. "We need this as soon as we can have it."

Maragakis' remarks were part of a briefing on Capitol Hill by five experts from Johns Hopkins, which has been tracking the international outbreak.

While other countries have run tens of thousands of tests — South Korea has tested more than 100,000 patients — the U.S. has tested barely a fraction of that. Technical glitches and narrow criteria for who could be tested initially hampered the efforts.

The test kit's technical problems have since been resolved and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines expanded. And while testing capacity has increased, promises made by the Trump administration have yet to come to fruition.

Click here for the full story.

1002d ago / 10:01 PM UTC
1002d ago / 10:00 PM UTC

SXSW canceled amid heightened coronavirus concerns

The city of Austin announced on Friday that it would be canceling SXSW, the conference and festival hosted there each year. SXSW is now the latest major event to be called off over coronavirus-related concerns.

The decision comes after numerous major events, including Google I/O, Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference and IBM’s Think conference have all been canceled across the country.

In the face of these cancelations, SXSW, which had been scheduled for March 13-22, had continued to move forward with its plans, adding speakers as recently as this week. 

In 2019, SXSW drew over 417,000 visitors from 106 countries during its two weeks. According to a report released by SXSW, the event had a $356 million impact on Austin’s economy in 2019.

1002d ago / 9:52 PM UTC

White House changes guest rules, considers additional coronavirus precautions

The White House is changing its rules for on-campus guests and considering additional precautions, including pausing White House tours and temperature checks for visitors to the White House, according to a senior White House official. 

All guests will have to disclose the countries they have visited in the last 30 days. That information will then be reviewed by the White House access team, which is overseen by the Secret Service, to cross-reference with any country listed with a coronavirus outbreak.

Tony Ornato, White House deputy chief of staff for operations, is currently monitoring the ongoing situation and assessing the visitors policy as it relates to any changes that might be needed, the official said.

Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said the White House "will continue to reassess circumstances and adopt new processes and safe practices in line with evolving HHS, CDC & OPM guidance to include: educating staff on hygiene best practices, existing sick day & telework policies, increased cleaning routines for high-traffic areas, and asking staff to be alert to the CDC & DoS’ current set of international health & travel advisories when scheduling meetings or travel, and inviting people onto the complex."

1002d ago / 9:49 PM UTC

The scene in Naples

Sanitary workers disinfect the church of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples, Italy, on March 6, 2020.
A worker disinfects the church of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples, Italy, on Friday.Salvatore Laporta / LightRocket via Getty Images
1002d ago / 9:42 PM UTC

Colombia and Costa Rica report coronavirus cases

Costa Rica's government on Friday said it confirmed its first case of coronavirus, in a 49-year-old woman from the United States who is in the Central American nation with her husband.

The instance marks the first confirmed infection of the fast-spreading coronavirus in Central America.

Colombia also confirmed its first case of coronavirus on Friday, joining other South American countries already reporting cases of the fast-spreading disease.

1002d ago / 9:36 PM UTC
1002d ago / 9:35 PM UTC

Los Angeles County reports two more cases

1002d ago / 9:33 PM UTC

U.S. stocks close turbulent week on a down note

One of the wildest weeks in the history of the U.S. stock market ended on Friday with major indexes down sharply as concern about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak persists.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped about 256 points on Friday, or about 1 percent. The Dow remains about 3,600 points below its peak in mid-February. 

The broader S&P 500 index declined 1.7 percent on Friday, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite fell 1.9 percent.

1002d ago / 9:21 PM UTC

McDonald’s cancels its biennial employee convention

McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski announced Friday that the company’s major 2020 employee convention has been canceled.

The "Worldwide Convention," which was set to take place in Orlando from April 20 through April 23, is the company's biggest yearly event.

The biennial conference was supposed to be a place where McDonald's employees from more than 100 countries could gather. It will now be held virtually. In the video announcement, Kempczinski said that the next in-person "Worldwide Convention" will be held in Orlando in 2022. 

1002d ago / 9:17 PM UTC

Red Cross simulates transport of coronavirus patients

Image: Coronavirus patient simulation
Red Cross personnel prepare for the transport of a coronavirus patient during a simulation, in Rome, on Friday. Italy's virus outbreak has been concentrated in the northern region of Lombardy, but fears over how the virus is spreading inside and outside the country has prompted the government to close all schools and Universities nationwide for two weeks.Andrew Medichini / AP
1002d ago / 8:18 PM UTC
1002d ago / 8:10 PM UTC

Trump administration grants tariff relief for masks and other medical items

Masks and medical supply makers received relief from import tariffs on virus-related items imported from China, according to government data reviewed by NBC News.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative, the agency overseeing the administration’s tariff exclusion process, approved exemptions for several companies that manufacture medical supplies including masks, surgical drapes, cleansing wipes and stethoscope covers. 

The Wall Street Journal was the first to report the news.

The Trump administration has come under scrutiny for its opaque exclusion process, with some requests being denied with no explanation.

1002d ago / 8:07 PM UTC

France closes schools in two regions with high infection rates

France is to close all schools in two regions where there have been significant clusters of coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told a news conference Friday. 

All daycare, kindergarten, primary and high schools will be shuttered in Oise, a region to the north of Paris, for 15 days from Monday, he said. Similar measures will also be put in place in Haut-Rhin, a region in the country's northeast, he added.

Speaking at the same news conference, France, Director-General of Health Jerome Salomon said 613 cases had been confirmed in the country, of which 39 were in hospital with a serious condition. Eight men and one woman had died, he added.    

Health officials were carrying out an average of 1,000 tests a day, Salomon said, adding that they could do more if needed. 

 

  

1002d ago / 7:42 PM UTC
1002d ago / 7:20 PM UTC

More than 63,000 travelers have been referred to CDC for screening, CBP says

More than 63,000 travelers at U.S. ports of entry have been referred by Customs and Border Protection to the CDC for enhanced screening amid the global coronavirus outbreak.

The agency said in a statement Friday that from Feb. 2 to March 4 it had referred 62,864 travelers by air, 766 travelers by land and 113 travelers by sea for enhanced health screening. CBP processes more than one million people per day at U.S. ports of entry. It was not immediately clear what the enhanced screening entailed.

"If CBP observes individuals with symptoms of COVID-19, we will continue to work with the CDC to determine if a traveler is a possible public health risk by referring them to CDC for enhanced health screening," a spokesperson said in the statement. "In addition, CBP will continue to refer for enhanced health screening any traveler who has been anywhere in mainland China or Iran within 14 days of the traveler’s attempted entry to the United States."

1002d ago / 7:10 PM UTC
1002d ago / 6:50 PM UTC

Facebook closes London offices after employee diagnosed

Facebook has closed its London offices until Monday after an employee was diagnosed with coronavirus, the company confirmed Friday.

“An employee based in our Singapore office who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 visited our London offices February 24-26 2020. We are therefore closing our London offices until Monday for deep cleaning and employees are working from home until then,” said Chloe Meyere, a spokesperson for Facebook.

Facebook has three offices in London, employing a total of 3,000 people. The company has asked staff who had direct contact with the employee to self-isolate and monitor themselves for symptoms. 

1002d ago / 6:48 PM UTC

The scene in Tehran

Image:
A firefighter disinfects a market in northern Tehran, Iran on Friday.Ebrahim Noroozi / AP
1002d ago / 6:20 PM UTC

Coffee chains to no longer fill personal cups due to coronavirus

Tim Horton's, the Canadian coffee chain, has joined a list of coffee shops no longer allowing their customers to provide their own cups when buying drinks due to coronavirus fears. 

Starbucks announced on March 4 that it would no longer allow people to bring in their "personal cups" or drink from reusable cups in their locations.

Image:
A sign posted at a Starbucks store in Tacoma, Wash.Ted S. Warren / AP
1002d ago / 5:35 PM UTC
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1002d ago / 5:23 PM UTC

Coronavirus cases in New York rise to 33

1002d ago / 5:19 PM UTC

U.K.'s Boris Johnson sings 'Happy Birthday' as he follows coronavirus advice

1002d ago / 5:06 PM UTC
1002d ago / 4:39 PM UTC

Keeping prayers germ-free

Image: A staff member from sanitizing company distributes hand sanitizer for free for worshippers during Friday prayers outside al Husseini mosque in downtown Amman
An employee from a sanitizing company distributes hand sanitizer to worshippers during Friday prayers outside al Husseini mosque in Amman, Jordan.Muhammad Hamed / Reuters

 

1003d ago / 3:39 PM UTC

Two coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has reported its first two coronavirus cases, Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday.

One individual is an adult in Wayne County who traveled to a country where coronavirus is present, and the other individual is an adult in Delaware County who traveled to another area of the U.S. where coronavirus is present. 

Both individuals are recovering at home in isolation. 

1003d ago / 3:16 PM UTC

Almost 16,000 people hospitalized in Iran, Health Ministry confirms

1003d ago / 3:05 PM UTC

Facebook groups provide a haven for coronavirus misinformation

Facebook’s efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus misinformation are running into a problem: groups.

Dozens of public and private Facebook groups totaling hundreds of thousands of members have become a haven for conspiracy theories, medical equipment promotion and unproven cures related to the new coronavirus, according to an analysis by NBC News.

The groups present a difficult challenge for Facebook as it has moved to crack down on misinformation, scam artists and other bad actors while also promoting its groups feature, which the social network has emphasized in recent years.

1003d ago / 3:00 PM UTC

'Stay at work,' says Trump's top economic adviser

The virus "looks relatively contained," said Larry Kudlow, President Donald Trump's top economic adviser, adding that Americans should "stay at work."

"I don't want to panic on the economy and on the virus and on policy measures," he told CNBC in an interview Friday morning. "With common sense, I would say if you are healthy and on the younger side, you should go about your business and not be afraid."

"Most Americans aren't at risk," he said, noting that "folks should not run around grabbing masks."

America does not necessarily need to follow the successful policies implemented in other countries, Kudlow said, pointing out Trump's success in implementing travel bans, quarantines, and screenings.

He also doubled down on a comment that drew scrutiny earlier this week, telling CNBC Friday, "When we have these corrections in the market, I would repeat my view that long-term investors should think seriously about buying the dip."

1003d ago / 2:54 PM UTC

Apple rejects coronavirus apps that aren't from health organizations

Apple is preventing developers from uploading apps related to the coronavirus outbreak that are not from governments or health professionals, according to CNBC.

The move comes as many tech companies are working to prevent their platforms from being used to spread misinformation about the new coronavirus.

Search results on Apple's app platform show little in the way of obvious spam, though independent developers said Apple's strict rules could reduce availability of software that would help peopel track the outbreak, according to CNBC's Kif Leswing.

 

1003d ago / 2:54 PM UTC

Precautionary measures in Bangkok

Image: sanitising gate
People walk through a 'sanitizing gate' spraying disinfectants against coronavirus before entering into a shopping mall in Bangkok, on March 6, 2020.Jorge Silva / Reuters
1003d ago / 2:30 PM UTC

Despite robust jobs report, Dow falls 700 points as traders stay laser-focused on coronavirus

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by around 700 points at the opening bell, despite the release of a robust monthly jobs report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The economy gained 273,000 jobs in February, well above economist predictions, with the unemployment rate falling slightly to 3.5 percent. 

Markets barely blinked Friday morning, with traders continuing to focus on how the viral outbreak could hammer the economy as companies downgrade their financial forecasts for 2020, issue travel restriction policies for their employees, and test out remote work contingency plans.

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1003d ago / 2:25 PM UTC

Global coronavirus cases reach 100,000

More than 100,000 people have been confirmed to have contracted the new coronavirus as of Friday morning, a little more than two months since the outbreak began in China.

Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking instances of the virus, said that 100,330 people had been infected as of 9 a.m. ET, 80,556 of whom were in Mainland China.

The news agency Reuters also reported the 100,000 mark had been passed, citing its own tally.

Of the total, 55,694 people made a recovery and 3,408 people died, suggesting a mortality rate of around 3 percent. Although when so-far unreported cases are taken into account, the death rate may be much lower.

There have been 14 coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. so far, 13 in Washington State and one in California.

1003d ago / 2:11 PM UTC

Trump signs $8.3B emergency bill to fight coronavirus

President Donald Trump on Friday morning signed the $8.3 billion emergency spending package to combat the coronavirus.

“We’re signing the 8.3 billion. I asked for 2.5 and I got 8.3, and I’ll take it,“ Trump said. “We’re doing well, but it’s an unforeseen problem,” he added.

The Senate passed the legislation in a 96-1 vote Thursday, a day after the House quickly and overwhelmingly passed it in a 415-2 vote.

1003d ago / 2:09 PM UTC

Two private schools in Manhattan closed Friday

Two private schools in New York City — The Spence School and Collegiate School — will be closed on Friday as concerns grow over the virus in the city.

On its website, the all-girls Spence School’s said it closed on Friday “for a comprehensive sanitization of the entire campus.” Collegiate School confirmed it would also be closed on its website, although it did not state a reason.

NBC News has approached both schools for comment.

This comes a day after Westchester County closed a string of schools due to the outbreak.

There are currently 22 reported coronavirus cases in New York state.

1003d ago / 1:41 PM UTC

In China, coronavirus rumors — and misinformation — swirl unchecked

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The new coronavirus has presented perhaps the biggest challenge to the Chinese government in a generation, posing a test not seen before by its strongman president, Xi Jinping.

Now it appears Chinese officials are trying to change the narrative.

The exact origin of the virus — which has sickened close to 100,000 people worldwide and killed close to 3,500 as of Friday — has not been confirmed. But it is believed to have been transferred to humans at a market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pathogen first broke out.

In recent weeks, however, Chinese officials have appeared eager to float the idea that the virus did not necessarily start in their country at all.

"No conclusion has been reached yet on the origin of the virus," Zhao Lijian, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, told a briefing Thursday.

Click here for full version of story.

1003d ago / 1:01 PM UTC

Collision, one of the biggest conferences in tech, calls off in-person event

Collision, a large annual technology conference, said Friday it will cancel the in-person event, which was scheduled from June 22-25 in Toronto. 

Instead of bringing 33,000 people to the city for the conference, Paddy Cosgrave, CEO of Web Summit, the company that puts on Collision, said he hopes everyone will join an online “Collision From Home” experience.

“Crises like Covid-19 demand responsibility and creativity. We want to do our part, and we hope others will too,” Cosgrave said.  Ticket holders will be able to attend “Collision From Home” and will also be able to use their ticket at Collision 2021. Refunds are also available up to 30 days after attending the online conference.